The Power of Externalisation

A good friend* told me this week that he had been in a bit of a slump with work. This had crept across into his personal life and affected his energy levels there as well as at work. But he had realised this and wanted to do something about it so journalled about his day as if his life were the life he wants to have as opposed to how things are right now.

*For real.  I’m not ‘asking for a friend’. And he gave me permission to share this.

He wrote in detail about how he wanted to be waking up and checking the overnight sales stats from his business, then reconnecting with developers who are helping him with the business’ next revenue generation model.

He found that this visualisation really got him out of his slump and it’s a practice he will use again.

At just the same time this week while continuing with Josh Kaufman’s The Personal MBA, which I can’t recommend highly enough, I read the following section on Externalisation.

The context in the book is slightly different to that of my friend but I was impressed at how he had leveraged the benefits of externalisation for his situation.

Key Points

  • Your mind handles information from outside your head better than the thoughts inside your head.
  • We can improve our productivity (amongst other things) when we convert our internal thoughts into an external form.
  • This can be via talking or writing, although the latter is more powerful.

The point to take away here is that by externalising his ideal day, my friend was pushing it closer to reality than it was if it had remained in his mind. And giving himself something objective to think about, come back to later, reframe and improve. And get himself out of a bit of a slump and back onto the climb.

It’s only one step on the road to progress but it is a step. He’s closer now to his goal than he was before this week. And that’s all we can ask for. To be a little bit closer to our goals every day.

In a way, he has outsourced his thoughts to the environment of his journal, building that environment to provide the framework for his mental state to get back on the road to progress and development and productivity. It’s different but it reminded me of Productivity Bang for Your £4.59 when I talked about designing my environment to support my progress with reading by buying some page markers and using them as a book-mark. Another small step with big impact for me.

You can read more about Externalisation on the superb website for The Personal MBA, where you can also read the rest of the book split out into separate pages. It is an incredible offering.

No idea what a journal is and how to use it? Or already got one but looking to step things up? I have been using Brendan Burchard’s High Performance Planner for about 6 months now and finding it’s very good.

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